2 August 2016

Council backs school trial for ‘Chomp’ free meal scheme

Twenty-five families on low incomes in the west of Brighton & Hove are getting the chance to have a free, nutritious hot meal and enjoy fun social activities for two days a week during the summer holidays through a scheme supported by Brighton & Hove City Council.

The project at West Blatchington primary school is being jointly run on a trial basis by the council and ‘Chomp’, a school holiday free lunch club organised by local group One Church Brighton.

Chomp has been providing summer holiday hot meals and social activities for families in need for a number of years now at churches and other venues in the city centre as well as in Moulsecoomb and Whitehawk.

The scheme is aimed at children from low income families who are experiencing social isolation or financial difficulties during the school holiday. Access to the Chomp scheme is by referral from schools, health workers, children centres and foodbanks.

The council is subsidising the holiday sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11am to 1pm at West Blatchington primary on a trial basis to find out more about the pros and cons of hosting the Chomp scheme in a school.

Chomp relies on volunteers and donations to support the sessions at their other venues. But at West Blatchington the meals will be cooked by staff from the council’s school meal contractor, Eden Foodservices. For this summer’s trial period the council is contributing towards staffing and food costs to support the scheme.

As with Chomp’s other venues in the city, the food will mainly come from Fareshare to keep costs low and reduce food waste.

The council’s lead member for equalities, Councillor Emma Daniel, said: “Chomp is an excellent local scheme that does not rely on council funding. In an era of big budget cuts at the council it’s vital we do as much as we can to support schemes like this.

“We want to help families in need, so we are looking to find out whether offering the Chomp scheme in a school might have advantages over other possible venues.

“If it is a success we can look into the possibility of applying for extra funding to expand the scheme to other schools in the city next year.”

One Church Brighton’s Chomp scheme manager, Amy Goodwin, said: “Holidays can be difficult for low-income families as they are under pressure to find additional money for lunches that are usually provided free of charge at school during term time.

“Chomp has provided more than 3,000 meals for families in need since 2013, and we’re delighted to be working with the council to explore new ways of expanding the scheme.”

The Chomp lunch club scheme is always on the lookout for more volunteers. Please email chomp@onechurchbrighton.org or call 01273 694746 to find out more.

The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership has a great deal of helpful information for families struggling to pay for food. For further information:

  • Visit http://bhfood.org.uk/Food-Poverty
  • or phone 01273 431700.